The well-being, strength, and reputation of our Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Miami (UUCM) depend on maintaining right relations — a sense of fellowship among the leaders, members, friends, and staff in an atmosphere of trust, respect, and cooperation. Yet our passion for justice and penchant for expressing ideas can lead to differences over issue priorities and advocacy strategies; our governance decision-making can lead to disagreements over individual’s authority, roles and responsibilities.
Differences of opinion and their resolution through compromise, consensus, or democratic procedures enhance a sense of community. Differences or misunderstandings that go unresolved and descend into prolonged conflict can threaten the organization. Conflict management and resolution are paramount.
This communique outlines the purpose and framework for the creation of a Right Relations Committee (RRC) at UU Miami, a body that will serve to address misunderstandings that may surface from time to time.
The RRC will serve to provide an objective, empathetic forum to hear complainants and to address issues as they arise at UUCM, to recommend correction action and to redress any grievance, and, wherever possible, to bring acceptable closure to the situation. The RRC will be comprised of 3-5 congregation members in good standing; board members or chairs of standing committees are excluded from serving due to potential compromises arising from their positions. The Committee’s process will be additionally supported by the presence of at least one church elder or “process observer” whose sole responsibility will be to monitor for objectivity and fairness in the process.
The RRC will hold at least one face to face meeting annually, but essentially will convene solely on an as-needed basis to hear grievances.
The Committee’s work will remain confidential to safeguard all parties involved. The Committee will investigate, hear testimony and make a determination of accountability. If the Committee determines that some breach of UUCM policy has occurred or if an individual has behaved in an inappropriate manner, it will make recommendations in an effort to bring all parties in line with UU principles and policies.
We preface these suggestions with the common sense wisdom that we all should adhere to the UU Principles and Purposes and our own church covenant, exhibiting behaviors that enhance the dignity and inherent worth of all participants: expressing sincere appreciation; allowing for human fallibility; dealing directly with each other; speaking softly; being creative in problem solving; maintaining a sense of humor; actively listening and clarifying what we hear; letting others have their say; respecting boundaries that may differ from our own; respecting confidentiality; refraining from harmful gossip about others; and speaking honestly. Each person, regardless of his or her role in the church—including clergy, board members, non-member staff, etc.—is expected to live to this covenant within the context of their relationship with the church community.
(February 2016) The Committiee is currently comprised of UUCM members Charles Bishop, Lisa Shackelford and Inge Nickelson.
Adapted from UU Faithworks and UU Justice Ohio (UUJO)